Juan Uribe

Trade Addison Reed To The Team With The Best Offer

In a report by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Washington Nationals are interested in obtaining Addison Reed from the New York Mets at the trade deadline.  However, Cafardo also notes the Mets may not be inclined to trade Reed to the Nationals.

If true, this makes little sense.

Reed is a pending free agent.  If the Mets do not trade him at the trade dealine, the best they can recoup for him is a second round draft pick, and that is only if the Mets were inclined to extend him a qualifying offer.  When you consider the qualifying offer for last year was set at $16.7 million, it seems like the amount will be too high for the Mets taste.  As a result, the Mets will likely lose Reed as a free agent with nothing in return if they do not move him at the trade deadline.

If the Mets are indeed trading him because the team is selling, there should be one and only one guiding principle in making a trade – Make the best trade possible.  It should not matter if that team is the Yankees or the Nationals.

In fact, the Mets have already benefited from making a trade with the Nationals.  On the eve of the 2015 season, the Mets traded outfielder Matt den Dekker for LOOGY Jerry Blevins.  For his part, Blevins was lights out for the Mets that season before breaking his arm.  With a good relationship already established, the Mets and Blevins have agreed to two different one year deals since.  In Blevins time with the Mets, he is 9-2 with two saves, a 2.76 ERA, 1.187 WHIP, and a 11.4 K/9.

Where would the Mets have been if they refused to make an intra-division trade back then?

Speaking of the 2015 season, the Mets moved prospects John Gant and Robert Whalen for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.  Uribe and KJ were both important members of the 2015 team.  Again in 2016, the Mets acquired KJ from the Braves.  Again, KJ was an extremely important part of a Mets team that made the postseason.

In 2015, the Mets made two trades with division rivals, and those two trades helped them win the pennant.  Now that they are selling, they should once again be willing to trade with teams in the division.  The only guiding principle in making a move is to judge whether the trade is the best return the Mets can get for a particular player.

Will seeing the Nationals win the World Series with Daniel Murphy, Reed, or anyone else the Nationals may acquire from the Mets?  Absolutely.  However, wouldn’t getting a top prospect like Victor Robles patrolling center field for a World Series winning Mets teams more than ease that pain?  Again, absolutely.

Now, can the Mets get Robles for Reed?  Probably not.  Then again, seeing the prospects got in exchange for Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman last year, it’s possible.  That being said, if the Nationals won’t give up a prospect of the caliber of Robles, someone may very well do so.  Again, the overriding point here is the Mets need to make the best trade possible . . . even if that trade is with the Nationals.

Mets Have Payroll Concerns Already

On October 29, 2010, in the wake of the Madoff scandal, Sandy Alderson took over as the Mets General Manager. Alderson inherited a team with some big stars like Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, and David Wright. With that he also inherited a team who finished the 2010 season with a hefty $126 million payroll, which ranked sixth in the major leagues. Due to some backloaded contracts reaching their expiration, the 2011 Opening Day payroll was actually inflated to $143 million.

Alderson went to work dismantling a team that was disappointing on the field in what was the beginning of a real rebuilding process. Luis Castillo was released before the season started. Oliver Perez was not too far behind him. Getting rid of the underperforming players the fans hated was the easy part. The hard part was what ensued.

The Mets first traded Francisco Rodriguez, who was getting dangerously close to having an expensive $17.5 million option vest. Then he traded Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler. Surprisingly, Alderson didn’t trade Jose Reyes, who was the National League leader in batting average. Instead, he would let Reyes become a free agent, and he would recoup a draft pick when Reyes signed a $106 million contract with the Marlins.

And just like that what was once a $143 million payroll became a $95 million payroll in a little more than a year. In subsequent years, the Mets would let Johan Santana‘s contract expire and not reinvest the money. They would release Jason Bay, and again re-invest the money. Then the Mets would shop R.A. Dickey after he won the Cy Young Award.  They obtained Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud in exchange for him which was a sure sign the Mets were more invested in rebuilding than contending.

It was also a sign that the Mets were cash strapped due to the Madoff scandal. The payroll would reach its nadir in 2o14 when it was actually $85 million, which ranked 21st in the major leagues. A bewildered and frankly angry fan base was left wondering when, if ever, the Wilpons were going to permit the Mets to have a payroll commensurate with their standing as a big market major league franchise.

Now, over the past two seasons, the Mets payroll has gone from $85 million in 2014 to $101 million to start the 2015 season. In that offseason, the Mets actually went out and signed Michael Cuddyer to help them become a more complete team. When Cuddyer faltered and David Wright would suffer from spinal stenosis, the Mets made moves and added payroll. The team first traded for Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe (even if the Braves paid part of their salary). The Mets then acquired Yoenis Cespedes and what was a left of his $10.5 million contract. In 2015, the Mets spent a little more, but more importantly they spent what they needed to spend to compete.

In 2016, the Mets initially put out signs they were not moving off their roughly $100 million payroll when they signed Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center. It was perceived as a sign the Mets were not going to spend; it was a sign they were not willing to go the extra mile to get Cespedes. But then something happened. Cespedes didn’t find that massive deal on the free agent market. Instead, he re-signed with the Mets for $27.5 million in 2016. After 2016, Cespedes had the option to opt out of the remaining two years $47.5 million left on his contract.

With the Mets paying Cespedes a hefty salary to start the season, the Mets Opening Day payroll rose all the way to $135 million. Before Cespedes was re-signed, there was some doubt about whether it was really the insurance on Wright’s contract that allowed them to make those in-season moves, the re-signing of Cespedes calmed down a fan base that worried when or if the Mets would be willing to spend. Better yet, when the Mets had some issues scoring runs, they went out and traded for Jay Bruce.

Surprisingly now, we are back at the point of wondering if the Mets are willing to spend. The $135 million payroll was a positive step, but it is still less than the first payroll Alderson had with the Mets, and it was only ranked 15th in the majors. Cespedes is a free agent, and no one is quite sure if the Mets will re-sign him, look to acquire a big name free agent like Jose Bautista, or if they are going to stick with the Michael ConfortoCurtis Granderson-Bruce outfield. The Mets also have a number of other areas to address this offseason.

The first step was Neil Walker accepting the $17.2 million qualifying offer. With that, according to ESPN‘s Adam Rubin, the Mets current payroll obligations are $124 million. That is just $10 million under what the 2015 Opening Day Payroll was. If the Mets were to re-sign Cespedes, or another big name free agent, the payroll is going to go well past the $135 million mark.

The problem is the Mets need to go even further than that. Not only do they need Cespedes, or a reasonable facsimile, they also need to re-sign Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas, or again, a reasonable facsimile thereof. The Mets may also want to add another backup catcher given Travis d’Arnaud‘s injury concerns, Rene Rivera‘s lack of offense, and Kevin Plawecki having two disappointing seasons. The Mets may also want to sign a veteran starter considering the health issues of their rotation and Bartolo Colon having signed with the Braves this past week. There’s a lot the Mets need to address here, and it isn’t likely that $10 million is going to cover all of it.

So again, we are back at the point of wondering how far the Mets are willing to go to compete. Will they have a payroll in the upper half of all of baseball? Do they have the funds to spend like a big market club? At this point, no one knows the answers to these questions. While Mets fans may be apprehensive, it is too soon to to pass judgment. That time will come when we see how the Mets handle the Cespedes situation.

Where Have You Gone Juan Uribe?

Unless you want to wax poetic about Indians First Base Coach Sandy Alomar, Jr.‘s eight game stint in 2007 with the Mets to close out his career, there is no real connection for Mets fans to the players and coaches from either team.  There isn’t much of a connection between these two teams because Juan Uribe was released by the Indians on August 5th of this year.

It is a shame too because Uribe was a fun player to watch.  He was the rare player that seemingly brought more to the table than just his statistics.  He was a clubhouse leader from the moment he stepped foot in Flushing, and he knew how to keep a team loose.  It was one thing he has prided himself on with him saying, “The one thing I can do is be a good teammate.  Players are your family. I just try to be the same guy every day. You play good, you play bad, be the same guy.”  (northjersey.com).

There were great stories with him joking around with David Wright about when he was going to come back to the Mets.  There were stories of him breaking out the cigars after a win.  He was the guy who was blasting Backstreet Boys in the clubhouse to the amusement of his teammates.  He was also the guy who chided teammates for watching football over baseball in the clubhouse.  Uribe was a guy that keeps baseball fun for everyone around him.

Still, Uribe was more than a character, he was a baseball player, who had a positive impact on the field.  Right from the beginning, Uribe made an impression with the Mets.  In his third at-bat with the team, he had a walkoff single off the left-center field wall to get the Mets a split with the Dodgers:

Overall, he did a great job filling in for the injured Wright, and he accepted his part as a bench player down the stretch.  Unfortunately for him, he would have a cartilage issue with his chest that would prevent him from playing in the NLDS or the NLCS.  He worked hard to be able to play again, and Uribe would actually make his way onto the World Series roster.  The reward for his hard work was a pinch hit RBI single in his only World Series plate appearance:

Uribe earned that chance, and he made the most of it.  In many ways, it is hard to believe the Mets would have even been in that position without his leadership and play on the field.

Even with him being cut by the Indians, his fingerprints are all over that team as well.

Jose Ramirez, the player who took over third base from Urib said, “I always mess around with him and call him Dad.  I respect him a lot.  (cleveland.com).  Like the proud Dad Uribe was purported to be, he was always generous with the younger players as Ramirez said, “He has so much experience and he wants to transmit that to the younger players.”

On of the longest tenured Indians, Carlos Santana, said, “Uribe is good to have around. He gives the team good energy.”

Francona noted despite Uribe’s histrionics, he’s a “calming influence” in the clubhouse saying, “He’s always smiling.  He goes, ‘Hey, play me when you want. Just tell me where to go.’ He’s been there and done it many times. I know that when he talks, they listen. Everybody enjoys him. I mean, how could you not?”

Certainly, the Mets and Mets fans enjoyed Uribe when he was in New York.  Even when Uribe is not around, you can see the effect he has had on another team that is playing for the World Series.  Even though he will get a ring with an Indians World Series victory, it is a shame he will not be on the field or in the dugout to celebrate with a team he left an indelible impression.  It is a shame Uribe never caught on with another team at the end of the 2016 season.

Baseball is better when Uribe is around, and his presence alone makes teams better.  Even if it is not as a player, we should all hope that Uribe finds his way into an organization in some capacity in 2017.  Hopefully, that will be with the Mets.

IBWAA AL Manager of the Year Ballot – Buck Showalter

This was a fun year in the American League where we saw the managers who were presumed to be among the best in the sport get the most out of their team’s talent and put their team in position to go to the postseason.  When you’re picking between the best managers in the sport, and they all did tremendous jobs, you are really picking nits in ranking them.  With that said here’s my nit picking ballot:

1st – Buck Showalter

Could you possibly imagine where this Orioles team would be right now if they had just a league average starting staff?  It’s incredible to think about how far the Orioles have gone when Chris Tillman and his career 4.13 ERA and 1.310 WHIP is far and away your team’s ace.  The question is how did the Orioles do it?

For starters (pun intended), Showalter uses his bullpen masterfully, probably better than anyone else in the sport.  When you have no starting pitcher who averages six innings a game, you are going to have to be masterful if you are going to give your team any chance to win a game.  Showalter not only was able to put his relievers in the right position to get outs, he was also able to keep most of them healthy over the course of a full season.  And yes, it certainly helped that Zach Britton had one of the great seasons a closer has ever had.  Still, he’s just one guy that pitches one inning for a bullpen that routinely had to pitch over three innings a game.

Showalter also got the most out of his flawed power bats.  Mark Trumbo was signed to be the right fielder, and he hit 46 homers.  Pedro Alvarez was the primary DH.  With Showalter shielding him from left-handed pitching for most of the year, Alvarez would hit 22 homers.

It also helps that Showalter has two of the best young players in the game in Adam Jones and Manny Machado.  Even in what has been Jones’ “worst” season, he still hit 28 homers.  Machado had an underappreciated year where he was not only his usual MVP level, Gold Glove caliber third baseman, he also had to handle going to shortstop when J.J. Hardy went down for an extended time due to injury.  Couple that with Showalter navigating the issue of Hyun Soo Kim arguably not being ready to start the season, refusing a demotion to the minors, Showalter handled the situation well.  He not only eased Kim into the season, but he also got a tremendous season out of him.

Arguably, Showalters is the best manager in the game, and he proved it once again this season.  For that, he is my selection for AL Manager of the Year.

2nd – Jeff Bannister

When a team has a +8 run differential, the team is expected to go 82-80.  The Texas Rangers would go 95-67 while running away with the AL West.  A big part of the reason why is Bannister who, in his second year as a manager, has established himself as one of the best managers in the game.

Bannister had a lot on his plate this season, including but not limited to the run differential.  He was helping Ian Desmond convert from a shortstop to an All Star center fielder.  He had Rougned Odor, who has shown himself to be an incredibly gifted player, but also as we saw with him punching Jose Bautista, he can be a hot head.  There was the demise and sudden retirement of Prince FielderThere were tough waters to navigate surrounding Yu Darvish, who was returning from Tommy John surgery, and his brother being convicted in Japan for illegal gambling.  The Rangers also entered the season without a good catching or first base option.  High priced outfielder Shin-Soo Choo would miss most of the year with injuries leaving the team without a good left fielding option either.

The reason this all worked was the Rangers had a good starting rotation led by Cole Hamels and a no-name very underrated bullpen that included the reclamation project of all reclamation projects in Matt Bush, and first time closer, Sam Dyson, who had a breakout season.  There were also great seasons by  Mostly, this worked because Bannister is a great manager that put his players in the best spots to succeed.

Because this team had more pitching, especially starting pitching, Bannister is barely ranked below Showalter.

3rd – Terry Francona

Heading into the 2016 season, the Indians were largely constructed like the 2015 Mets.  They were a team built on young pitching with a highly questionable offense.  In order for it all to work, the team would need its manager to do a great job.  Francona did.

Again, the one thing everyone knew the Indians had to start the season was starting pitching, and boy did they pitch.  Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar each had an ERA+ of 122 or better.  Fact is, when Trevor Bauer is your fourth best starting pitcher, you know your starting staff is loaded.  Ultimately, it was this staff that separated Showalter and Francona in my mind in terms of casting the vote for Manager of the Year.  Still, that does not mean Francona had an easy job this season.

He lost his starting catcher Yan Gomes for the season before the All Star Break.  He lost his best outfielder Michael Brantley, in the beginning of May.  He had an offense that was too reliant on the rejuvenation of Mike Napoli (he hi (he would be released t 34 homers) and Juan Uribe (released on August 5th).  The team also desperately needed Carlos Santana‘s power to return (it did).  Couple that with a middle infield of Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez showing he can offensively handle a corner infield spot, and some smoke and mirror, the Indians generated a sufficient amount of offense to match their starting pitching.  Francona goes a long way in much of this happening and that is why he deserves Manager of the Year consideration.

As he frankly had smoother sailing than Showalter and Bannister during the regular season, he gets ranked just below the other two.  Frankly, if you came up with a different permutation of these three managers, no one could definitively say you were wrong.

Carlos Gomez – Because the Mets Are Counting on Justin Ruggiano

Reports are that Justin Ruggiano has begun his rehab assignment in Las Vegas.  It’s strange to think that is the case because Ruggiano was released from the Texas Rangers while he was in AAA before the Mets picked him up.  Apparently, it is because the Mets believed he was a better option in center field than just about anyone, including Michael Conforto.

It was an odd decision considering Ruggiano is not a particularly good defensive center fielder.  Over the course of his career, he has a -6.4 UZR and a -9 DRS.  If the Mets were looking to add him for offense for when the team faces left-handed pitching, their decision making is equally misguided as Ruggiano is a career .271/.334/.516 hitter against them.  Overall, the addition of Ruggiano could be classified as a bit of a panic move as Yoenis Cespedes is unable to play center field for the rest of the year, and Terry Collins has outright refused to play Conforto and Brandon Nimmo against left-handed pitchers.  Long story short, the Mets are without a true center fielder, especially when there is a lefty on the mound.  In some ways, the Mets signing Ruggiano was the team making the best out of a bad situation.

However, now there is a better center field option available as the Houston Astros have released Carlos Gomez.

Now, the Astros released Gomez as he has been terrible for them.  Since he joined them last year, Gomez has hit .221/.277/.342 as an Astro.  With each and every game, Gomez faltered, and he justified the Mets decision to void the trade to acquire him for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores due to concerns about his hip.  However, now, the Mets can acquire Gomez, and they should be interested.

From 2013 – 2015, Gomez averaged an 11.7 UZR and a 13 DRS in center field.  Now, his defense has slipped from his 2013 Gold Glove caliber season, but judging on the advanced defensive metrics, Gomez has been an average at worst defensive center fielder no matter what Collin McHugh thinks:

Look, Gomez is available because he has been a bad baseball player for the past year.  However, he is not that far removed from being a very productive major leaguer, and he is still only 30 years old.

If the Mets really want a right-handed bat as a platoon option, if the Mets want a player who still may have upside, and a player that can actually play center field, the Mets should go out and get Carlos Gomez.  But they won’t, and it shouldn’t come as any surprise as this is a team that truly believes Ty Kelly is currently a better option in the outfield than Conforto right now.  This is a team that passed over Juan Uribe to keep Kelly on the roster.

Passing on Gomez in favor of Ruggiano will become just the latest in a series of curious roster decisions the Mets have made this season.

Its Time – The Mets Should Fire Terry Collins

Normally, you don’t fire someone until you have a viable replacement in place. It’s not the prudent course of action, and ultimately, you can make matters worse by acting off raw emotion to quickly fire someone. However, it’s time. The Mets need to move on from Terry Collins despite the lack of an obvious suitable replacement.

This isn’t said lightly. It was his ability to manage the clubhouse that kept the team together last summer until the Mets could make the trades to add Kelly Johnson, Juan Uribe, and Yoenis Cespedes. Despite your impressions of his in-game management, Collins was the manager of a team that went to the World Series last year.

More than that, Collins appears to be a good man. He has written notes to Mets fans who are mourning the loss of a loved one. He stopped Spring Training practice so a young heart transplant survivor could meet his idols. Make no mistake, when you lose a human being of the caliber Collins is, your entire organization is worse off for it.

And yet, there comes a time when being a good person and past results need to be pushed aside. You need to focus on the job he’s doing and how he’s hurting the team.

This isn’t just about the Mets disappointing season thus far. You cannot pin a player underperforming on the manager alone even if Michael Conforto has regressed as the season progressed. Players certainly have to share in their responsibility as well. Furthermore, injuries have certainly played a part in this, and injuries cannot always be blamed on the manager.

It’s also not about Collins in-game management, which can be head-scratching at times. There are many factors at play to which we are not always privy. A player may feel under the weather or not ready to play in a game. Also, even if it may seem strange to people, a manager should be allowed to draw from 48 years of baseball experience to play a hunch every so often.

No, the reason why Collins needs to go is his decision making process and how it has hurt the team.

In April, there was his ill-advised decision to pitch Jim Henderson the day after he threw a career high 34 pitches. It was even worse when you consider Henderson is pitching in his first full season after having had his second shoulder surgery. Eventually, Henderson landed on the disabled list due to a shoulder impingement. Collins’ excuse for pitching Henderson was Henderson telling him before the game that “he felt great.

That signals that what was Collins’ greatest strength is also his biggest weakness. He puts too much trust in his players leading Collins to sometimes play players when they shouldn’t be playing.

It was the big issue with Game 5 of the World Series. He let Matt Harvey talk his way back into the ninth inning despite Collins belief that the Mets should go to Jeurys Familia in that spot. That moment wasn’t about whether anyone thought it was the right move to let Harvey stay in the game. It was about Collins thinking it wasn’t he right move and his letting the player control the situtation.

Speaking of Familia, Collins recently overworked him as well. Over a six day stretch from July 22nd to July 27th, Familia had worked in four games throwing 76 pitches. He was tiring, and in his last appearance, Familia finally blew his first save. The following game the Mets got seven innings from Jacob deGrom, and the rest of the bullpen was fairly rested and ready to go. Instead, Collins went back to Familia who would blow his second save in a row. Collins’ excuse? He was going to sit Familia until Familia approached him pre-game and told him he was ready, willing, and able to pitch.

With Henderson, Harvey, and Familia, it appears that Collins is losing control to the players. That seemed all the more apparent during the Cespedes golfing drama. The Mets star player and key to their entire lineup had been hobbled for over a month due to a quad injury, and yet he continued to golf everyday. That was news to Collins who said, “I didn’t know he played golf until you guys brought it up. Had it been bothering him then, he would’ve said something about it, but not a word.” (Ryan Hatch, NJ.com).

It is not fair to blame Collins for Cespedes’ injury. It also isn’t fair to blame Collins for Cespedes playing golf. However, your star player is injured, and his injury is severely hampering your team. Doesn’t a manager have an obligation to speak with Cespedes knowing he is an avid golfer that played golf throughout the postseason last year despite having a shoulder injury?

On it’s own the Cespedes golf situation would be overblown as well as the aforementioned pitching decisions. If that was the only issue, you could argue Collins should be permitted to stay on as manager. However, his decision making this past week was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

On August 5th, the Mets lost a game 4-3. The fourth and decisive run was set-up by a J.D. Martinez double. Upon replay, it appeared that Matt Reynolds had held the tag on Martinez appeared to came off the bag. Reynolds looked into the dugout, but there would be no challenge. Now, that’s not necessarily Collins’ fault as he is relying upon the advise of the replay adviser. However, it was important to denote this when setting the stage for what happened the following night.

The Mets trailed the Tigers 7-6 in the top of the ninth. Jay Bruce started a two out rally in the top of of the ninth, and he would try to score from second off a Travis d’Arnaud single. Martinez would throw him out at the plate, and the Mets just walked off the field without challenging the play to see if there was a missed tag or if Jarrod Saltalamacchia was illegally blocking the plate. Why? As Collins said himself, “Because I didn’t think about it — that’s why. Plain and simple.” (Ken Davidoff, New York Post).

The Mets literally lose the game without that challenge. They lost the night before, in part, because they failed to challenge a play where it appeared Martinez was out at second. Even with all of that, Collins still didn’t at least try to challenge the play to try to get the tying run home.

As if that wasn’t enough, there was the matter of why Brandon Nimmo wasn’t pinch running for Bruce in that spot. Collins didn’t choose Nimmo as a pinch runner because he simply doesn’t know which one of his players is faster:

When you cede decision making to the players, when you fail to do everything possible to win games, and when you don’t fully know the capabilities of every player on your roster, it is time to go.

It’s Time to Fire Terry Collins

Normally, you don’t fire someone until you have a viable replacement in place. It’s not the prudent course of action, and ultimately, you can make matters worse by acting off raw emotion to quickly fire someone. However, it’s time. The Mets need to move on from Terry Collins despite the lack of an obvious suitable replacement.

This isn’t said lightly. It was his ability to manage the clubhouse that kept the team together last summer until the Mets could make the trades to add Kelly JohnsonJuan Uribe, and Yoenis Cespedes. Despite your impressions of his in-game management, Collins was the manager of a team that went to the World Series last year.

More than that, Collins appears to be a good man. He has written notes to Mets fans who are mourning the loss of a loved one. He stopped Spring Training practice so a young heart transplant survivor could meet his idols. Make no mistake, when you lose a human being of the caliber Collins is, your entire organization is worse off for it.

And yet, there comes a time when being a good person and past results need to be pushed aside. You need to focus on the job he’s doing and how he’s hurting the team.

This isn’t just about the Mets disappointing season thus far.  You cannot pin a player underperforming on the manager alone even if Michael Conforto has regressed as the season progressed.  Players certainly have to share in their responsibility as well.  Furthermore, injuries have certainly played a part in this, and injuries cannot always be blamed on the manager.

It’s also not about Collins in-game management, which can be head-scratching at times.  There are many factors at play to which we are not always privy.  A player may feel under the weather or not ready to play in a game.  Also, even if it may seem strange to people, a manager should be allowed to draw from 48 years of baseball experience to play a hunch every so often.

No, the reason why Collins needs to go is his decision making process and how it has hurt the team.

In April, there was his ill-advised decision to pitch Jim Henderson the day after he threw a career high 34 pitches.  It was even worse when you consider Henderson is pitching in his first full season after having had his second shoulder surgery.  Eventually, Henderson landed on the disabled list due to a shoulder impingement.  Collins’ excuse for pitching Henderson was Henderson telling him before the game that “he felt great.

That signals that what was Collins’ greatest strength is also his biggest weakness.  He puts too much trust in his players leading Collins to sometimes play players when they shouldn’t be playing.

It was the big issue with Game 5 of the World Series.  He let Matt Harvey talk his way back into the ninth inning despite Collins belief that the Mets should go to Jeurys Familia in that spot.  That moment wasn’t about whether anyone thought it was the right move to let Harvey stay in the game.  It was about Collins thinking it wasn’t he right move and his letting the player control the situtation.

Speaking of Familia, Collins recently overworked him as well.  Over a six day stretch from July 22nd to July 27th, Familia had worked in four games throwing 76 pitches.  He was tiring, and in his last appearance, Familia finally blew his first save.  The following game the Mets got seven innings from Jacob deGrom, and the rest of the bullpen was fairly rested and ready to go.  Instead, Collins went back to Familia who would blow his second save in a row.  Collins’ excuse?  He was going to sit Familia until Familia approached him pre-game and told him he was ready, willing, and able to pitch.

With Henderson, Harvey, and Familia, it appears that Collins is losing control to the players.  That seemed all the more apparent during the Cespedes golfing drama.  The Mets star player and key to their entire lineup had been hobbled for over a month due to a quad injury, and yet he continued to golf everyday.  That was news to Collins who said, “I didn’t know he played golf until you guys brought it up. Had it been bothering him then, he would’ve said something about it, but not a word.”  (Ryan Hatch, NJ.com).

It is not fair to blame Collins for Cespedes’ injury.  It also isn’t fair to blame Collins for Cespedes playing golf.  However, your star player is injured, and his injury is severely hampering your team.  Doesn’t a manager have an obligation to speak with Cespedes knowing he is an avid golfer that played golf throughout the postseason last year despite having a shoulder injury?

On it’s own the Cespedes golf situation would be overblown as well as the aforementioned pitching decisions.  If that was the only issue, you could argue Collins should be permitted to stay on as manager.  However, his decision making this past week was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

On August 5th, the Mets lost a game 4-3.  The fourth and decisive run was set-up by a J.D. Martinez double.  Upon replay, it appeared that Matt Reynolds had held the tag on Martinez appeared to came off the bag.  Reynolds looked into the dugout, but there would be no challenge.  Now, that’s not necessarily Collins’ fault as he is relying upon the advise of the replay adviser.  However, it was important to denote this when setting the stage for what happened the following night.

The Mets trailed the Tigers 7-6 in the top of the ninth.  Jay Bruce started a two out rally in the top of of the ninth, and he would try to score from second off a Travis d’Arnaud single.  Martinez would throw him out at the plate, and the Mets just walked off the field without challenging the play to see if there was a missed tag or if Jarrod Saltalamacchia was illegally blocking the plate.  Why?  As Collins said himself, “Because I didn’t think about it — that’s why. Plain and simple.”  (Ken Davidoff, New York Post).

The Mets literally lose the game without that challenge.  They lost the night before, in part, because they failed to challenge a play where it appeared Martinez was out at second.  Even with all of that, Collins still didn’t at least try to challenge the play to try to get the tying run home.

As if that wasn’t enough, there was the matter of why Brandon Nimmo wasn’t pinch running for Bruce in that spot.  Collins didn’t choose Nimmo as a pinch runner because he simply doesn’t know which one of his players is faster:

When you cede decision making to the players, when you fail to do everything possible to win games, and when you don’t fully know the capabilities of every player on your roster, it is time to go.

Juan Uribe Reunion Might Be Worthwhile

One thing that is lost when evaluating a player is their impact on the clubhouse. The one thing we all saw with Juan Uribe with the Mets last year was he was a great clubhouse presence. 

He was the guy who walked into the clubhouse, and he suddenly owned the place. He was blaring the Backstreet Boys on the stereo.  He felt comfortable joking around with everyone including Captain David Wright. He also was on hand to remind everyone that baseball is the greatest sport in the world. It takes a well equipped man to act this way, and as we found out this year, Uribe is that kind of guy. 

The two time World Series winner’s impact on the 2015 Mets was understated. He kept that team both loose and focused. He helped that team win the division and go to the World Series. Uribe was having a similar impact on the Indians’ clubhouse this year until his release:

The reason why Uribe was released is he hasn’t been very good this year hitting .206/.259/.332 with nine doubles, seven homers, and 25 RBI in 73 games. That matches the lackluster production he had with the Mets in 44 games when he hit .219/.301/.430 with nine doubles, six homers, and 20 RBI. Fact is, Uribe is a 37 year old player who shouldn’t be playing everyday, nor should he be relied upon to provide offense. What you want him for is his presence. 

The Mets also should want him due to their rash of injuries. 

The Mets have already lost Wright, Jose ReyesLucas Duda, and Asdrubal Cabrera to injury. No one can guarantee when or if any of these players can return. In the interim, the Mets have unproven, but playing well, Matt Reynolds at shortstop alongside hot hitting, but still susceptible to right-hand pitching, Wilmer Flores at third. The short bench makes the Mets play James Loney everyday despite him being unable to hit left-handed pitching. Additionally, the Mets are now carrying Ty Kelly on the bench. 

At a minimum, Uribe is a much better option off the bench than Kelly. Also, with his ability to play both second and third, he opens up some platoon options thereby allowing the Mets to maximize their offense against left-handed pitching (even if he’s been better against righties this year). 

Overall, given the current state of the Mets, Uribe is a viable option for the Mets. He’s even more attractive when you consider how valuable he is in the clubhouse. Once he’s available, the Mets should go out and bring him back for another World Series run. 

Editor’s Note: this was also published on Mets Merized Online

Who To Trade?

Last year, the Mets parted with number of pitching prospects in a drive to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2006.  Over the course of this past year, we have seen some of them actually pitching in the major leagues:

  • In 16 starts for the Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer is 9-2 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP.  He is the leading candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and he should receive some Cy Young Award votes at the end of the season.
  • The Tigers traded Luis Cessa in the offseason to the New York Yankees.  Cessa has pitched briefly out of the bullpen for the Yankees this year.  In his six appearances, he has pitched 13.2 innings going 1-0 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.244 WHIP.
  • The Atlanta Braves do not seem quite sure what to make of John Gant and his quirky delivery, but they seem to be convinced he’s a major league caliber pitcher.  Out of the bullpen, Gant has made seven appearances with no record, a 6.17 ERA, and a 1.714 WHIP.  As a starter, Gant has performed considerably better going 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.179 WHIP.

As we know, the Mets got Yoenis Cespedes for Fulmer and Cessa.  Gant was part of a trade that netted the Mets Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.  The Mets also made trades of varying success to obtain Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, and Eric O’Flaherty.  Overall, the Mets gave up valuable pieces to obtain major league players that helped them win the National League Pennant.

As of right now, the Mets are in a similar situation to where they were last season.  They need to assess what they need (starter, reliever, and right handed bat off the bench) and what they are willing to trade to obtain those pieces.  Sooner or later, the right player is going to come along, and the Mets are going to have to decide whether to trade next year’s Fulmer for this year’s Cespedes.  The issue becomes who do you and who do you not trade.  Here is a look at the Mets top prospects teams are sure to be inquiring about.

Amed Rosario

Each and every team is going to inquire on Rosario, and the answer time and time again is going to be no.  It’s for good reason as well.  When the Mets signed him out of the Dominican Republic, his defense was seen as a given, but there were concerns about his bat.  Rosario has put many of those concerns to bed by hitting .321/.372/.464 with 19 doubles, 12 triples, three homers and 56 RBI between St. Lucie and Binghamton.  He was a Florida State Leauge All Star, on the Team World Roster for the Future’s Game, and he was named MLB.com‘s 18th best prospect.  Unless you are talking a Mike Trout trade, Rosario is off the table.

Dominic Smith

This is where things start to get a little interesting as Smith has really taken off since Rosario joined him in AA hitting .336/.398/.626 with five doubles, one triples, eight homers and 27 RBI.  Smith is starting to show the power that could take him from a very good prospect to an elite prospect with the ranks of Rosario.  Already, Smith is a plus defender at first base, and he has the ability to drive the ball gap-to-gap.  If you trade him, you could be trading away the next John Olerud or worse if his power game continues to develop.  If you keep him, you risk him becoming the next James Loney.  Yes, Loney has been a quality major league first baseman, but Loney should never be what stands between you and getting an All Star or difference maker at the trade deadline that could put the team over the top.

Dilson Herrera

It seems that since Herrera came to the Mets in the Marlon Byrd trade, he was touted as the Mets second baseman of the future.  He was someone who could handle the position well defensively while being a real force at the plate.  He showed that he has unique power for the position.  Due to injuries in 2014, the Mets brought him up from AA to play in the majors.  Last year, he was seen as an offensive spark when a number of players went down due to injury.  This year he hasn’t been a consideration at all.  He has struggled in AAA hitting .277/.331/.471 in the Pacific Coast League which is a hitter’s league.  Part of that might be teams figuring him out.  Part of that may be him dealing with a shoulder injury sapping him of some of his offensive ability and having him fall into bad habits at the plate.  He is less patient at the plate, and he is lunging for balls he wouldn’t last year.  If you move him, you are moving the guy that could be a multiple time All Star.  If you don’t, you just might be hanging onto a guy that may never figure it out.

Gavin Cecchini

Cecchini is in a tough position in the Mets organization.  He isn’t seen as good a prospect at short as Rosario, and he has had some trouble handling the position at Cashman Field, who has an infield that is not kind to infielders.  He’s a good hitter hitting .315/.392/.441 with 18 doubles, two triples, five homers, and 40 RBI, and he reminds you of a right-handed Daniel Murphy at the plate.  However, he is not considered as good of an offensive prospect as an Herrera.  Furthermore, his bat does not have the power profile that would play at third or the outfield.  By many accounts, Cecchini will play in the majors one day.  What you don’t know is what he will be.  Will he be the next Murphy at the plate with similar defensive versatility?  With that in mind, will he develop power as he gets older and fills out like Murphy did?  Will he turn into the next Matt Reynolds – a major league utility player?  Again, you don’t want to lose the next Murphy for a rental, but you also don’t want to miss out on someone because you wnated to keep another Reynolds or Joe McEwing type of player.

Kevin Plawecki

Most Mets fans would jump at the opportunity to trade him.  He hasn’t hit at all in the majors despite given extended looks on two different occassions.  However, Plawecki has been a good defensive catcher and pitch framer.  He was also once considered a prospect who could push Travis d’Arnaud for playing time.  Keep in mind that since his demotion, Plawecki is hitting .291/.347/.512 with four doubles, five homers, and 21 RBI in 27 games.  These numbers aren’t exciting, especially in the Pacific Coast League, but it shows he is starting to become more patient at the plate and more selective swinging at pitches.  Also keep in mind that catcher is a position that players tend to develop later in their careers than other positions.  Plawecki could still very well be the Mets catcher of the future, or he could be a solid backup.  He may not be the type of player who should hold up a deal, but he definitively is a player you want to protect if at all possible.

Ultimately, it seems like one of the aforementioned players are going to have to be traded if the Mets want to acquire an impact player like Jonathan Lucroy.  However, they need to be very careful about which one.

In an ideal world, Rosario and Smith are non-starters.  These are two players who are excelling in AA at a young age, and they appear primed to contribute to the Mets sooner than expected.  You do not ever want to give up a Rosario or a Smith.  These players should prove to be fixtures in the Mets lineup for ten plus years.  Still, you’re going to have to give up someone if you are going to want to add that last piece who could put the Mets over the top in 2016.

That piece appears to be between Herrera and Cecchini.  The Mets may very well have a preference between these two players, and coming into this season, it seemed like Herrera.  However, that does not mean they still feel the same way, nor does it mean that other teams think similarly.  Regardless of how the Mets feel, a team may force their hand to trade one or the other to hopefully trade for this year’s version of Yoenis Cespedes.  In the end, it seems like the Mets will be giving up a Herrera or a Cecchini like they did with Fulmer last year if they want to make a move.

The hope is that the player has the impact Cespedes did last year and that the Mets take the next step and win the 2016 World Series.

Editor’s Note: this was also published on Mets Minors

 

Mets Have to be Better

You can look at any aspect from this game and say the Mets have to be better. That’s always the case when you lose a game. That goes double when you lose to what may be a historically bad Braves team. 

For starters, Matt Harvey regressed after three terrific starts. His location was off, and the Braves made him pay. Harvey’s final line was six innings, seven hits, four earned, two walks, and five strikeouts. Ultimately, it may not have mattered, but you have to scratch your head at Terry Collins starting Kevin Plawecki over Rene Rivera

Now, the Mets could’ve picked up Harvey tonight as they were facing former Mets prospect John Gant and his odd windup tonight: 

It looks difficult to hit, right?  Well, it hadn’t been the case this year with Gant having entered the game with a 5.63 ERA and a 1.750 WHIP. Naturally, Gant turned it around tonight pitching 6.2 innings allowing only two hits, one earned, and two walks with five strikeouts. 

Gant had the sinker working that makes him an intriguing prospect. It’s why the Braves did a good job getting him as one of the pieces in the Juan Uribe/Kelly Johnson trade. For what it’s worth Johnson was 0-2 with a walk against Gant. 

That’s how the night went for pretty much all of the Mets except Curtis Granderson who was 2-4 while scoring the only run of the game for the Mets in the first. There were a few stop and starts over the night, but the Mets were not cashing in on their opportunities. Most notably, the Mets had bases-loaded in the seventh, and Collins turned to Wilmer Flores, who couldn’t grip a bat yesterday, to pinch hit for Alejandro De Aza, who was originally announced go pinch hit for Antonio Bastardo, as the Braves brought the lefty Hunter Cervenka. Flores struck out as it’s hard to play with one hand. 

The offense and pitching wasn’t the Mets only failing. In the eighth, Yoenis Cespedes bobbled a ball in the outfield. The play allowed Chase d’ArnaudTravis‘ brother, to score even though he had already stopped at third. It went down as an unearned run to Erik Goeddel

As if all of this wasn’t enough, James Loney made a bush league play on the bases that led to a game ending inning ending double play. On a Plawecki grounder, Loney slide into second. His slide wasn’t enough to break out the double play, so he lunged his elbow towards Jace Peterson‘s crotch. Even though Plawecki would’ve been safe by a mile, it was correctly ruled a game ending double play.

With that, Gant had his first career win, and Harvey had his major league leading ninth loss. It was a bad loss that was hard to watch. Across the board, the Mets need to be better than this.